Academic Integrity… Still an Issue

Academic Integrity is the main ethical question when doing research, having a class assignment, and publishing. This issue, which is certainly not a new one, has recently gone through a resurgence in the media with articles and editorials in the New York Times and discussions occurring in many scholarly circles, as well.

It’s been assumed that the resurgence of this issue is likely due to the internet, the ease at which information is acquired, and the way people process information today.

Those who do infringe could probably fit into a few different categories, ranging from those that know they are cheating and do it anyway to those who don’t know they are doing something wrong because they don’t know the rules to those who use other’s ideas by accident.

There are lots of ways to combat wrongful practices in scholarship, traditionally this has included harsh penalties for those caught cheating.

It is probably true that these penalties are still needed as a deterrent to those individuals who will cheat even though they know it is unethical. However, another way to combat these ethical issues are to educate students of the issues.

Personally, I like the latter solution the best because it is proactive. Educating students of the issues of Academic Integrity, what is considered a violation, and what is allowed is an excellent way of curbing cheating and an excellent way to put these issues in the forefront of a student’s mind when they are doing their assignments.

A good education on Scholarly Ethics and Academic Integrity would involve more than a paragraph on a syllabus or an explanation of the penalties that are given for each violation. Rather, the better approach is the integrate the ethics of research and the issues into the classroom.

For example when discussing a term paper, explain the importance of original ideas, explain why you would use in order to check a paper for accidental plagiarism, and why using correct citations helps to facilitate scholarly communication.

There are an unlimited number of ways Academic Integrity could be integrated into the classroom. With each new creative way to teach Academic Integrity we will see more and more  students who are conscious of the issues; until eventually Academic Integrity will hardly be an issue at all.